New Artifact: Apollo-Era Data Acquisition Camera

Travel though space history in our Starship Gallery timeline and see a new artifact – a 16mm Apollo-era data acquisition camera.

This camera was used in training Apollo astronauts. A motion picture camera like this was mounted on the lunar rover to record mission activities. The film was later viewed back on Earth to determine how well the equipment worked and how mission requirements were accomplished.

The large handle was easier to hold by astronauts wearing bulky spacesuit gloves.

Camera breakdown

  • Power Cable: The power cable provides the necessary connection between the spacecraft electrical power system and the 16 mm camera. The cable is approximately 108 inches (2.74m) long and weighs approximately 0.23 pound (0.4kg). 28 volt dc utility receptacles are located on spacecraft panels 15, 16, and 100.
  • 16 mm Film Magazine: Film for each mission is supplied in preloaded film magazines that may be easily installed and/or removed from the camera by a gloved crew member. Film capacity is 130 feet ( 40m) of thin base film. Total weight of magazine with film is approximately one pound (0.4kg). Magazine run time versus frame rate is from 87 minutes at one fps to 3.6 minutes at 24 fps. Each magazine has a ‘film remaining indicator plus an end of film red indicator light. Future plans include film magazines of 400-foot capacity. Quantity and type of film supplied is determined by mission requirements.
  • Lenses: Three lenses of different focal length are provided for use on the 16 mm camera.
  • 10 mm: A medium wide-angle lens, the field of view being 41.1 degrees x 54.9 degrees. It is used for internal crew activities and equipment when details are required. Focus is from 6 inches to infinity with aperture openings from f 1.8 to 22. It has two spike-like handles for setting f-stop and distance with the gloved hands.
  • 18 mm Kern: A lens of slightly wide-angle design and high optical quality. Primary use is for vehicle-to-vehicle photography while bracket-mounted at left or right rendezvous window. It is also the widest angle lens that may be used with the right-angle mirror. This lens is usually stowed on the camera. Viewing angle of 24 x 32 degrees and weight is approximately 0.80 pound and has two spike-like handles for setting the f-stop and distance with the gloved hand. This improved lens has larger numbers for reading while in the EV spacesuit.
  • 75mm Kern: A medium telephoto lens design with excellent optical properties. Primary use is for photography of distant objects and ground terrain. Usually used on the window-mounted camera. Viewing angle of 6 x 8 degrees, weight is approximately 0.80 pound. This lens is similar in appearance to the new 18 mm lens and has two handles for f-stop and distance, gloved hand settings, and larger printed numbers. It also has a sun shade.
  • Right Angle Mirror: This accessory, when attached to the bracket- mounted 16 mm camera and lens, facilitates photography through the spacecraft rendezvous windows along a line of sight parallel to the CM X-axis with a minimum of interference to the crewmen. It adapts to the 18 m and 75 mm lenses by means of bayonet fittings.
  • Ring Sight: An accessory used on the 16 mm camera as an aiming aid when the camera is hand-held. The concentric light and dark circular rings, as seen superimposed on the view, aid the user in determining the angular field of view of the sight. It is attached to the camera by its shoe sliding into a C rail. It is also used on the 70 mm camera.
  • Data Acquisition Camera Mount: This device facilitates in-flight mounting of the 16mm camera at the spacecraft’s left or right rendezvous windows during zero g. The mount is a quick-disconnect hand-grip that may be attached to a dovetail adapter at either rendezvous window. The camera attaches to the mount by means of a sliding rail and a friction lock screwed against the camera by a knob. Two marked locating stops are provided for correct positioning of the camera at a window, one for the 18 mm lens and one for the 75 mm lens. Mount alignment is such that installed camera/lens line of sight is parallel to the CM X-axis, +1 degree.
  • 16mm Camera Sextant Adapter: The 16mm camera can be used to take photographs of the moon through the CM sextant during lunar orbit, useing camera sextant adapter. The adapter is an optical unit about 8 inches long that mounts directly on the Guidance and Nav Panel 122 SXT socket. The camera attaches to the adapter by means of a bayonet fitting.
  • Timing Cable: The DAC timing cable function is to supply 28 vdc to the 16 mm DAC and route the shutter closure signal to the RHEB panel 227 and the PCM junction box. The DAC timing cable is 32 inches long with a connector at each end. The DAC connector has an orange index mark and is labeled P1 – DAC PWR. The connector for panel 227 is a large 90 elbow, has a blue grey index mark, and is labeled P2 – PNL 227. At launch, the cable is coiled, secured with a utility strap, and stowed in L2. After mounting the DAC in the right rendezvous window, the DAC timing cable is unstowed and the connector (P1 – DAC PWR) is mated to the camera. The SC1 INST PWR switch on panel 227 is verified in the OFF position, the cable connector (P2) is connected to the panel receptacle, and the panel switch is placed to the PWR position. The shutter closure signal is sent to the PCM junction box when the camera is operating.

16mm Camera Operation: The camera mount (grip) is removed from stowage and attached to the dovetail at the appropriate rendezvous window. The 16mm camera and accessories are unstowed as required. The selected lens is attached. An optional right-angle mirror may be installed on the lens. A ring sight may also be installed on the camera for hand-held use. A film magazine is installed on camera. The correct exposure is determined. The lens aperture and focus are set. The camera mode (frame rate) and shutter speed are set. The power cable is installed on camera. If required, the camera is installed in the mount at the window. The Utility Power receptacle switch is set to Off, the camera power cable is connected to the appropriate receptacle and the Utility Switch is placed to the Power position. Filming operation can be started by pressing the Operate button (switch) on the front of the camera. To stop the camera, the Operate button is pressed again.

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